Southwark oaks saved by removing footpath

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Southwark Council is set to allow mature oaks trees to take over a footpath instead of cutting them down. 

The aged oaks have broken through a boundary wall bordering Dulwich Upper Wood, causing bricks to fall from part of the 50-metre wall. 

Concerned about the danger to passers-by, the council blocked off the footpath in front of the trees and redirected pedestrians along another section of Farquhar Road. 

A spokesperson for the council said: “Initial investigations looked at establishing the retaining wall in its current position, thus securing the embankment, the boundary and the footway.  

“However, tree roots were found extending beneath the wall and this, coupled with the clearance area required for safe reconstruction, meant that 34 trees would have to be felled.” 

But working with local residents, the council came up with a new plan to build the wall along the line of the former kerb 

The design, backed by 80 per cent of those who responded to a consultation, includes creating a new pavement that nudges into the highway.  

The council now has to go to the magistrates’ court to get permission to allow the pavement to be absorbed into the woodland.  

If this is approved, the council hopes to begin work later this year. 

Cllr Catherine Rose, cabinet member for leisure, environment and roads said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to find a way to maintain these trees.  

“We consulted with local residents and this is a reflection of all that hard work. 

“We are committed to caring for and growing the 80,000 trees on council land, as is evidenced by our recently unveiled plans to plant 10,000 new trees across the borough. 

“We always do our best to find viable ways to maintain established trees and I’m delighted that our dedicated trees team has come up with this solution.” 

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